Surfing the Mental Ecology

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Surfing the Mental Ecology:
On Doing the Buddha-Descartes Boogie
(Written for Burning Man "Festival," August 2003)

These are the spiritual climes that try human souls. Everywhere, to attach or not to attach. Everywhere, another "I think, therefore blah, blah, blah." And of course we live in the midst of an information explosion that runs in parallel with ecosystem stress rumblings.

In the solutions realm of changed mindsets, there is a way out of the polarized worlds of the external and the internal–of science and psychology/spiritual practices. There is the inter-world of knowledge formed by actual human entanglements with objects of interest. Three facets are worth bringing to mind:

1. Each of us is tied very specifically to the outer world by our cares, interests and knowledge.

2. A world of meaning is formed from all the knowledge entanglements of individuals, cultures and corporate bodies. This world works as any ecology where some meanings proliferate, are selected, work in certain cultural environments and so forth.

3. To acknowledge the active and extensive world of meaning that humans add to context-defining organisms is to have the choice of leaving the intolerant and boring cultural realms of various forms of objectivism for embodied forms of living where transactions of meaning are care-to-care rather than object versus object.

In Buddhist terms we are our attachments and there are many. But unlike Buddhism we can choose not to run from our attachments but rather to frolic in the mental ecology like a Zen gardener.

In Cartesian epistemology terms there are obvious peaks of agreement where the mental ecology finds just one species of meaning and where things appear–ohmigod–“objective.” No matter how wild the Zen gardener in the ecology of meaning it doesn’t preclude a little bending to the priorities of our interdependence.

Dance, dance ... with my body and with my mind, straight and high until I die.

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